Best Books for One-Year-Olds (the Montessori Perspective)

Book display Montessori

At the age of 1, children develop more interest in reading than they did during their first year of life. This is also when they start actively flipping through pages on their own. If you haven't done so already, this may be a good time to expand your child's library.

Below, you will find a carefully curated list of outstanding titles for the very young readers.

Criteria for selecting:

  • Excellent for family reading, and for a child to explore independently
  • Board books only: easy for small fingers to flip and tough to tear apart
  • Aligned with Montessori principles
  • Easily accessible online or in local stores

I’m a fan of buying used books. It’s possible to get an entire box of them for the price of one hardcover, and most of the time they are in great condition. Besides the obvious benefit of saving money, opting for used books also reduces our waste and carbon footprint.

On the other hand, perhaps you're selecting a gift, or you simply enjoy the scent of freshly printed pages. Either way, you might prefer a brand new edition. For the titles listed below, you'll find links to marketplaces for both used and new books alike.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar

by Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle

When I learned that 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' has remained an all-time classic for over 50 years, I wasn't particularly surprised.

With its unique design, attractive art, and engaging story, this book will continue to captivate future generations of young readers.


Goodnight Moon

by Margaret Wise Brown
Goodnight Moon - Margaret Wise Brown

Speaking of all-time classics, 'Goodnight Moon' has lulled children to sleep for over 75 years.

You may notice that this story slightly diverges from the Montessori principle of reality-based content, as it features a rabbit going to bed. However, the virtues of this title more than compensate for that minor quirk.

Whether it's the comfort of the bedtime routine, the allure of the moon, or the charm of the illustrations, this book remains a favorite evening read for countless children around the world.


Lola at the Library with Mommy

by Anna McQuinn
Lola at the Library with Mommy

A sweet little book with beautiful illustrations, 'Lola at the Library with Mommy' is part of a series about the curious young girl Lola and her love for reading.

This warm, gentle story about growing with books encourages readers to discover the joy of reading and gets one excited to visit the library—though many kids get pretty hyped about that idea on their own.


The Snowy Day

by Ezra Keats
The Snowy Day - Ezra Keats

Once you start reading books to or with your child, you'll quickly discover that some become your favorites. 'The Snowy Day' is one of mine. The following quote perfectly describes this little work of art:

"In 1962, a little boy named Peter put on his snowsuit and stepped out of his house and into the hearts of millions of readers. Universal in its appeal, this story beautifully depicts a child's wonder at a new world, and the hope of capturing and keeping that wonder forever. The quiet fun and sweetness of Peter’s small adventures in the deep, deep snow is perfect for reading together on a cozy winter day."


Where's Spot?

by Eric Hill
Where's Spot - Eric Hill

Similar to 'Goodnight Moon', 'Where's Spot?' might stretch the bounds of the real world a bit (there are slightly more wild animals hiding around the house than one would typically see). Nonetheless, young children will find a lot of joy in lifting the flaps of this book over and over again.

As Parents magazine put it, 'Spot is one of the essential experiences of childhood.'


One Big Day

by Anne Wynter
One Big Day

You may be thinking, 'Oh, this one will make a perfect first birthday present!' And that's true. But there's more to it.

Starting around the age of 2, children begin to understand the concept of a birthday, and it becomes a significant event for them. This thoughtfully created book offers an opportunity to read and re-read about something they genuinely care about.

On the other hand, you can strategically use this title as a parent to get your child excited about the amazing birthday party you are planning for them. A birthday may only occur once a year, but a book about it remains relevant all year round.


First 100 Words

by Roger Priddy
My Big Word Book - Roger Priddy

This list wouldn't be complete without a book by Roger Priddy. Similar to "First 100 Words" mentioned in Best Books for Infants, it is part of a series of books perfectly tailored to satisfy a young child's learning cravings. The sturdy board pages of this book feature bright, clear photographs of things children will recognize from their own experiences—fantastic for building vocabulary. 

It's hard to go wrong with virtually any book by Roger Priddy.


There are many, many more wonderful titles for this age. Hopefully this list will be a good starting point for your child's literary adventures.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to comment below!


Also, check out our other articles from this series:

Best Books for Infants
How to Pick Best Children's Books

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Montessori book shelf

Encourage Your Child to Pick Their Favorite Books!

Kids are much more inclined to choose a book when they can easily spot its colorful and appealing covers.

A well designed book display is the ideal method to showcase your home library.

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